Engineering, Freight Rail

Brisbane Port boss calls for Inland Rail link

Port of Brisbane CEO Roy Cummins has delivered a public demand for Inland Rail to be extended all the way to the port, calling the dedicated freight link “crucial” to a successful future.

In a column published in The Australian on September 6, Cummins says he believes the Port of Brisbane has all the potential to grow into a substantial freight and bulk port.

But if that’s to happen, he said more containers need to arrive by rail.

“Just 2 per cent of our containers move on rail,” Cummins wrote.

“In 2018, our 1.3 million containers required around 4 million truck movements. By 2050, that number could increase to 13 million truck movements.”

Inland Rail – the Federal Government’s $10 billion freight rail line to connect Brisbane and Melbourne via a dedicated regional railway – currently will only extend to Acacia Ridge, 25 kilometres away from the Port of Brisbane.

While Inland Rail is being built to handle 1.8-kilometre-long, double-stacked container trains, containers moving between Acacia Ridge and the Port of Brisbane would have to be on single-stacked shuttles using the existing network, which is shared with passenger trains.

In April, the Commonwealth and Queensland governments agreed to jointly-fund a $1.5 million study for a dedicated freight link to extend Inland Rail all the way to the port.

Cummins, in his very public column, made his opinion clear on the matter.

“When freight trains share the passenger network, freight always loses out, which is understandable,” he said. “There are shutdowns during peak periods, delays during maintenance periods, sub-optimal scheduling to avoid passenger trains interaction, and over time, less and less capacity devoted to freight.

“If Queensland is to truly reach its potential as an export powerhouse, it needs to get all the foundations in place, and that means a dedicated rail connection from Inland Rail to the Port of Brisbane.”

The governments’ joint survey into a dedicated rail link launched in April and was expected to take 12 months.

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